Climbing plants: choice, cultivation and care
Climbing plants are exceptional plant specimens, not only in terms of beauty, but also in terms of functionality, as they can help us solve certain problems and perform certain functions for the home and/or garden. Understanding when to buy them, why to use them and which species to choose, as well as how to care for them, can be very useful in different situations. In this article some advice for deciding which climbing plant to choose and how to maintain it.
FUNCTIONS OF CLIMBING PLANTS
As mentioned above, climbing plants, thanks to their characteristic vertical growth, on walls or supports, can perform various functions, useful for our lives in the home or garden and for solving daily problems.
Climbing plants, in fact, can:
- Screening views and unsightly structures
- Protect against prying eyes from the outside
- To constitute dividing hedges
- Adorn bare walls
- Mitigate the sunshine
- Allow a saving of 20% of expenditure for the air conditioning of the house
- To cover soils poor in foliage, otherwise naked
- Stop the horizontal monotony of gardens.
- Aesthetically, these are plants that can take on infinite colours and shapes, that can give us vigorous foliage all year round (in evergreen species), and that can fill us with roses or juicy fruits, beautiful and good to eat.
TYPES OF CLIMBING PLANTS DIVIDED BY FUNCTION
Choosing a climbing plant can often mean choosing the solution to a problem or choosing to obtain a certain aesthetic effect. Climbing plants can therefore be of various kinds, to be chosen in specific cases for specific purposes:
fruit climbing plants adorn in a particular way, in addition to offering tasty fruits to eat: the blackberry without thorns produces precisely blackberries, the actinidia produces kiwi, the American vine produces the grape-strawberry
There are also several species with specific characteristics, such as those:
- the large ones are suitable for covering large areas, perhaps to thicken gardens or cover large walls unsightly: polygon, climbing roses, vines of Canada;
- evergreens allow us to save on the support, which can also be made of plastic, and give us coverage all year round: ivy, honeysuckle, the euonymus climber;
- which can easily create shade are: climbing hydrangea, false jasmine, cobea
- perfumed also add pleasant fragrances to our garden: the fragrant pea, wisteria, the jasmine of S.Giuseppe
- from flowers create beautiful scenery: passion flower, common jasmine, large-flowered clematis, large-flowered bignonia
- particularly suitable for warm climates, to shield from the sun, are the blue jasmine, the sun and the bougainvillea
- annual, ideal for hedges, are: climbing bell, nasturtium, tumbergia.
TYPES OF CLIMBING PLANTS DIVIDED BY GROWTH
Climbing plants can be of different types depending on how they grow and how they must therefore be supported:
like ivy, bignonia, climbing hydrangea, the vine of Canada: they cling to the wall by themselves and do not need any support; they are characterized by sucker-shaped roots.
such as kiwi, honeysuckle, wisteria or celestial: the branches and stems grow in a spiral, wrapping naturally around vertical supports such as fences, metal nets, wires, poles, etc.
such as blackberries, roses, winter jasmine: they must rest on sturdy support structures such as trellises and espaliers, as they develop in height thanks to thorns or hooks.
SUPPORTS FOR CLIMBING PLANTS
Depending on the climbing plant chosen, a suitable support must be provided. If the plant is deciduous, the support should also look good, as it will remain bare in winter. The most common materials for the support are:
is the cheapest, but must be rough to allow a greater attachment to the plant
is the best solution; teak or iroko do not require maintenance and are therefore suitable for evergreen plants, even if more expensive; fir or pine are cheaper, but require more care
- Iron wires
In the hottest areas, however, they must be covered with plastic, because their heat conduction properties could burn and damage the plant, as well as being dangerous for people.
WHEN TO PLANT VINES
The period for planting climbing plants is different depending on the type:
- The annual
like hypomea, nasturtiums, convolvulus, fragrant peas, must be planted when the intense cold has passed definitively
- Perennials already developed
can be planted at any time of the year, except when excessive heat or frost make the climatic conditions unbearable
- The youngest perennials
must be planted in spring, before branching, or in autumn, before the cold.
Because of their quality as lush and vigorous plants, climbers need a soil rich in organic substances, which gives them the right sustenance for growth. However, the soil must also be completed with materials that allow excellent drainage, which the climbing plants need: earthenware, pumice and expanded clay are the best choices.
HOW TO PLANT CLIMBING PLANTS
That’s what you have to do to plant the vines:
- Prepare holes in the ground 40 cm wide and 40 cm deep, at least 40 cm from the wall if the plant will lean on it, to give the right space to the roots, or prepare pots of the same size and at the same distance from the wall
- Spread the draining material, such as expanded clay, on the bottom of the holes
- Make the soil soft using fertilizer and compounds
- The roots must be positioned outwards so that they can be reached by rainwater.
- If the purchased plant needs and has the support it needs, fix it to the wall by tilting it a little, at 10/15 cm from the wall, to circulate the air.
- Tie the branches of the plant to the support just fixed (the knots should be left on the back to prevent the view)
- Cover the roots with earth.
- If the climbing plant is to be potted, very large containers must be chosen, taking into account the size of the roots and the plant itself.
A FEW MORE TIPS FOR ACCOMMODATION
The most common fear of climbing plants is that they are against the wall and can bring insects into the house. To avoid this, it is necessary to leave at least 30 or 40 cm of space around doors and windows free of vegetation.
The most vigorous species, such as Canadian vine, polygon and wisteria, should also be checked to prevent shoots from crawling near doors and windows.
To obtain a good coverage from the sun, if the wall to be covered is not completely exposed, it would be better to plant the climber in the shady area, as the branches will naturally go towards the light. The opposite result cannot be achieved.
A further tip is to direct the branches to the support right from the start, to give the plant the desired shape right away.
CARE FOR CLIMBING PLANTS
A few operations are sufficient to treat climbing plants; only the youngest specimens or those grown in pots need more attention.
Climbing plants in the ground need to be fertilized for the first two years after planting. Slow release granular fertilizer or organic fertilizer are the best types for climbing plants, to be distributed in autumn or during the growing season. Potted climbing plants should be repotted every 3 or 4 years and regularly fertilized: a liquid water fertilizer should be used from March/April until July together with watering.
Climbing plants should be watered especially in hot and dry seasons. The soil should be constantly monitored for water shortages. Potted and evergreen species should also be watered during the winter.
CLEANLINESS AND ORDER
Every year, at the beginning of spring, it is necessary to check the knots that bind the branches of the climbing plants to the supports, due to the growth and to ensure that the knots themselves do not ruin the branches; if you notice bottlenecks or damage, loosen the laces and tie the branches again. While checking the laces, the gap between the mats and the walls must be carefully cleaned: accumulation of leaves and residues could create ideal conditions for the attendance of insects and the proliferation of diseases.
Younger plants only need to thin the branches too thick, to counteract any disease, and a light trim can stimulate the lateral and basal branching, improving the overall shape of the plant. For already developed plants, they should be pruned after flowering, or in early spring if they bloom in summer or autumn.
This is how it is done:
- Remove the older branches, because the plant can thus rejuvenate and produce new branches with flowers
- If we have a species with variegated leaves, it is necessary to remove the single-coloured branches that could expand and ruin the aesthetic effect for which we have chosen the plant.
- Remove the most disorderly branches, proceeding with a few at a time, moving away you can then look at the overall effect of the plant to understand if it is still appropriate to intervene or if you need to stop
- Remove the dry branches to ventilate the plant.
WHERE TO PLACE THE CLIMBING PLANTS
Climbing plants, combined with their supports, which can also be used for aesthetic decoration and therefore must be chosen with care, can appear in different places outside a house, especially taking into account the exposure and the functions that they can have.
- On the terrace
can help to shield the relaxation areas created ad hoc: surround the outdoor dining area or the solarium area, serves both to protect us from prying eyes, and to help us not to take too strong sunshine. Or, placed against the walls most exposed to the sun, climbing plants can protect the interior of the house from excessive heat.
- In the garden
Climbing plants can always be placed around relaxation areas or on the walls of the house, but they can also act as separators of places: in short, climber plants can be the dividers between one area and another of the garden (for example between the solarium and the dining area, between the pool and the playground) or between your garden and the perimeter boundaries.
- On the balcony
Climbing plants can protect walls from sunlight and otherwise are simply plants with decorative function, since the space of a normal balcony is not large enough to create other possibilities.
At home, climbing plants can find a place not in large quantities, of course, but sparingly they can create very pleasant aesthetic effects: for example, climbing plants that do not have large vegetative developments, can be used to frame some portions of the walls, to serve as a decorative motif at the corners of the doors, to perhaps divide the study area from the relaxation area in a closed veranda. Avoid climbing plants, like any other plant, in the bedrooms and, in general, in the sleeping areas.